Mychajliw's review is in, and Poloncarz's book hasn't even been published yet

Mar 22, 2019

In the world of Erie County politics, anything is fair game for an attack. The newest fight is over a book written by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, slated to be published later this year.

The book is the story of the negotiations which led to the current lease for the county football stadium in Orchard Park, signed in 2013.

"It is not written in the form, as if it were for a law review article," said Poloncarz. "It is a narrative from my perspective of the negotiations, starting truthfully with my own views of the Buffalo Bills and growing up as a Bills fan. It's something the average public would hopefully enjoy. I guess we will find out later this year."

County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw once mulled running this year against the county executive. Now he is attacking Poloncarz for writing the book, saying it is illegal outside income.

"When you look at the law it's very clear. Our ethics law is crystal clear," said Mychajliw. "Now, mind you, it's an ethics law that Mark Poloncarz signed into law. This is Mark Poloncarz' law, whereas a public official cannot receive private information in the course of their job duty and use that information for personal gain. It sounds like that's exactly what he's doing."

Mychajliw also attacked the county executive for using information he was privy to in the lease talks.

"That's exactly what happened here," he said. "Mark Poloncarz took inside information, private information from his public role as county executive and now he's going to profit from it, personally. That's exactly what happened."

Inside information is what Rep. Chris Collins is accused of using in his private sector stock dealings.

Poloncarz said everything he has done so far is legal and he didn't schedule publication of the book a few months before the November election.

"The comptroller himself has an outside firm that he does work for and owns. So it's a little disappointing for him to be criticizing me for some of the same things that he has done it himself, which is potentially have outside income," Poloncarz said. "I haven't. I wrote a book, a historical narrative about the history of the lease negotiations, the untold story because a lot of people don't know what happened."

The county executive said he will file everything about the book required under the county ethics law.

"If I was a Republican, I don't think this conversation would be happening right now, but because I am a Democrat and the comptroller's a Republican and this is an election year, it has become a story in his eyes," he said. "I'm disappointed. There's nothing that prohibits me from having outside income and I did not receive an advance. So for people who think I made a lot of money from writing this book, I haven't."

Poloncarz says publisher SUNY Press chose September as the publication time, although there may be some copies around in June. Mychajliw said he's already started the legal process with Freedom of Information requests to SUNY Press and the county executive - and there will be more.

"It all depends on the county executive's answers to our questions," he said. "Do we return information to the Ethics Committee, which is controlled by Mark Poloncarz? Do we send it to the district attorney's office? We don't know. It all depends on what Mark Poloncarz' answers are. That will determine what our next steps are."